The Tailor

Filed under:Fiction,Religion — posted by Anwyn on June 28, 2010 @ 10:15 pm

It’s a working shop. No flash. No effort at decorating or slickness. The clothes hang all around, in various states of chalk mark and straight pin, claim sheets attached and the day’s work moved to the convenient end of the clothes bar nearest the primary sewing machine.

I am Thine, O Lord; I have heard Thy voice,
And it told Thy love to me.
But I long to rise in the arms of faith
And be closer drawn to Thee.

The sign above the door, one down the row from the convenience store, says, “Lee’s Custom Tailors.” There are in fact no tailors in the shop apart from Mr. Lee himself. I walk in with an armful of clothes, ringing the bell hanging from the door bar; he looks at me quizzically, waiting for me to explain myself so that he doesn’t have to bring out his small but serviceable stock of English. When I hesitate, he gestures to my arm. “What you have?”

“Oh. Pants, a suit, and a dress.”

The next gesture is to the dressing room, one of two cubbies built against the wall and covered by a length of cotton print hanging from an old spring rod. Dust covers the Stick-Up air freshener. People must sweat when trying on clothes, or maybe the sheer number of them is no match for the limited atmosphere of the shop. “Go ahead.”

Consecrate me now to Thy service, Lord,
By the power of grace divine.
Let my soul look up with a steadfast hope,
And my will be lost in Thine.

I hear the sewing machine hum. Evidence of the obviously busy shop aside, I am depressed. Who would make a living sewing? I gloomily put on my first piece of maladjusted clothing. Poor Mr. Lee. Wonder how long he’s been in America.

O the pure delight of a single hour
That before Thy throne I spend–
When I kneel in prayer, and with Thee, my God
I commune as friend with friend!

I emerge looking sheepish, as I always look when I put on clothes other than what I wore on purpose that day. Mr. Lee looks me over, yanks the pants up by the waist to make sure I’m not wasting his time, that they really do need to be shortened, then gets down to the floor to turn them under. He looks at me in the mirror. “Yes?”

“Maybe just a little shorter?” I suggest.

“What? Shorter? No, no.” He gestures.


This is Oregon; the pants will get wet, daily, if they are even an eighth of an inch too long, but Mr. Lee has hemmed my pants before. He’s the pro. He untwists my hips so he can measure accurately with his little chalk stand.

Back into the dressing room. Next misfit piece. I hear something besides the sewing machine. Mr. Lee is whistling. I recognize the tune.

Draw me nearer, nearer, blessèd Lord,
To the cross where Thou hast died.
Draw me nearer, nearer, nearer, blessèd Lord,
To Thy precious, bleeding side.

(Written in February. Posted now.)

And When Did You Last Sing the Songs of Satan?

Filed under:Heh,Religion — posted by Anwyn on January 29, 2009 @ 8:38 am

Rules for Methodist hymnody.

IV. Sing lustily and with a good courage. Beware of singing as if you were half dead, or half asleep; but lift up your voice with strength. Be no more afraid of your voice now, nor more ashamed of its being heard, than when you sung the songs of Satan.

Ever wondered about the difference between Methodists and Wesleyans, given that both follow the teachings of John “Songs of Satan” Wesley? So have I. Apparently the Wesleyans broke from the Methodists over slavery.

Dear Mr. Hitchens and Newsweek

Filed under:Language Barrier,Need a Good Editor?,Religion — posted by Anwyn on January 10, 2009 @ 7:58 pm

The fact that you, Mr. Hitchens, do not personally believe in God, or any god, does not precisely give you the right to lower-case God in a Newsweek article, and the Newsweek editors who allowed it should turn in their stylebooks. The fact that you believe there is no such being as God does not negate the fact that in writing, the word God, capitalized, is used to refer to a distinct, specific entity commonly acknowledged to be the God of Judaism and Christianity, the God of the Bible.

When you start lower-casing Santa Claus, Sherlock Holmes, and Allah, Newsweek, then you may let Hitch get away with this cutesiness. Not before.

Via the headlines at Hot Air, where even Hitchens fanboy Allah doesn’t lower-case God except in cases of interjectional “thank God” moments.

Update: I assumed it was obvious, but I guess it should be noted that an advanced search for “god” at shows numerous instances of capitalized “God.” Hitchens did this to make a point and the magazine’s editors supported him. But as I point out on the comments below, while other gods who fall under the umbrella of the lower-case common noun (including God) have identifying proper names (Zeus, etc.), and while God does have other proper names (Jehovah, etc.), God is his most common proper name and thus is capitalized. Hitchens could have made his point in a stylistically correct way by simply referring to “men of the Judeo-Christian god,” but chose to go for the shock value and broke the rules in so doing.

Happy Christmas to All, and to All a Good Night

Filed under:It's My Life,Religion — posted by Anwyn on December 25, 2008 @ 4:31 pm

What a week. Stories for another time. Snowbound in Portland, Oregon–a concept so far removed from reality that it never occurred to me it could happen. People stranded in the airport for four days or possibly more. A trip to church so the Bean could do his reading (which he actually recited from memory and for which he received a spontaneous round of applause in the middle of church) worse than any driving I ever did in Indiana. Friends who own a truck over for Christmas Eve dinner. And today–4:30 and I’m in my pajamas, eating leftovers and playing with the Bean’s toys. Aaahhh.

Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah to you and all of yours. Much love to my friends and family. And safety and warmth to everybody. The Bean’s passage, from the Contemporary English translation of the Bible, Isaiah 9:2-3, 6-7:

2 Those who walked in the dark
have seen a bright light.
And it shines upon everyone
who lives in the land
of darkest shadows.
3 Our LORD, you have made
your nation stronger. [b] Because of you, its people
are glad and celebrate
like workers at harvest time …

6 A child has been born for us.
We have been given a son
who will be our ruler.
His names will be
Wonderful Advisor
and Mighty God,
Eternal Father
and Prince of Peace.
7 His power will never end;
peace will last forever.
He will rule David’s kingdom
and make it grow strong.
He will always rule
with honesty and justice.
The LORD All-Powerful
will make certain
that all of this is done.


Filed under:Good Grief,Religion — posted by Anwyn on December 5, 2008 @ 4:44 pm

That five bucks in the bucket outside the grocery store today was my last donation to the Salvation Army until they loosen up this junk:

Capt. Johnny Harsh, who has led the Oshkosh Salvation Army for more than three years, has been suspended for disobeying orders and could soon be terminated from the agency.

Harsh, whose wife, Capt. Yalanda “Yoley” Harsh, died unexpectedly in June, said he violated a Salvation Army rule that an officer in the agency may only marry another officer of the organization. Harsh is engaged to a woman who is not affiliated with the Salvation Army. He said they plan to marry in June.

Read on for the other ways in which the organization gets into their officers’ business–no overnight stays in the guest room for this lady because the Salvation Army pays for some of their officer’s housing expenses. I’m of mixed mind about that–the solution seems to be don’t accept funds earmarked for housing from your employer if you don’t want to give them a say in who gets to stay there.

Oh well, the Bean’ll be just as happy if we never poke any bills into the kettle again. He doesn’t yet quite understand how we can give money away and still have some left for ourselves, and though he enjoys the actual act of folding the bill to the appropriate size and turning and twisting it until it slides into the slot, he still decidedly disapproves of the concept. Lighten Up, S.A. I’m now frankly surprised this outfit is still going as strong as it is.

Via Allah, who brings the C-word.

Conversation of a Sunday

Filed under:It's My Life,Mothering,Photoblogging,Religion — posted by Anwyn on November 16, 2008 @ 11:27 pm

Son: I like that stained-glass window.

Me: Yeah, me too.

Son: What’s it of?

Me: Well, there’s a cross in the middle there.

Son: I think it’s God’s eye.

Speak Up, Pro-Life Atheists. Shut Up, Peace-at-All-Costs Christians.

Filed under:Abortion,Politics,Priorities,Religion — posted by Anwyn on June 24, 2008 @ 7:16 pm

One of my favorite atheist/agnostics points out that Obama chose poorly in using abortion to make the argument that those who have religion need to recognize that “because God says so” is not a sound basis for public policy.

Right on, he did, but it’s not surprising that he felt safe in doing so. The anti-abortion position is in no way limited to Christians, but any Christian who bases the anti-abortion argument on God is simply begging for marginalization. The argument must be predicated on the continual-line humanity of a person from conception to death in a nursing home for it to have legs in the battle against the pro-abortion position. The obvious relationship is that it is because humans are human no matter in what format or age that Christians are so well convinced that God views abortion as baby killing. The God part should be derivative, not foundational.

It seems by observation that another consequence of the self-marginalization that goes along with predicating the argument on the wrong keystone is that atheist/agnostics are hesitant to express outright pro-life positions because they find it difficult to formulate justification outside religion (and, as I was reminded after writing the post, because they fear being 1) lumped in with extremists; 2) lumped in with the religious who justify their positions on religion alone). Another of my favorite atheist/agnostics is not willing to see abortion banned but does admit she couldn’t do it herself and piles on a healthy dose of rage for those stupid enough to get themselves into positions where they think they have to.

Each of those times, even if the idea I might be pregnant only lasted for five minutes, I contemplated the possibility that there was a real live tiny human being inside my body, and I knew beyond any doubt that if it really were there, I could not kill it.

She goes right up to the idea that a human baby is a human baby from the very beginning but then backs off in the post to the point that every woman must decide for herself. I am in no way picking on Rachel here; I really liked that post as I like most of what she has to say. I’m just pointing to an example of a person who believes without religious foundation that a conceived fetus is a human baby and yet who will not go on to apply that as an objective standard. I think there’s a lot of that going around, and I think the marginalization of the pro-life as a religious position hastens others stopping short of applying that objective standard.

So Obama believes positions with religious origin or relationship must be shaped into cogent arguments not based on God or they have no place in public policy. As a Christian, guess what? I completely agree with that standard. Go tell it to the people who think “love your neighbor as yourself” and “turn the other cheek” are recipes for government instead of a standard of personal conduct–or rather, those Christians and non-Christians alike who use those passages as clubs against Christians who don’t believe that war is the greatest evil.

Scotland Yard Forensics No Longer Content to Bat Cleanup for Holmes, Wimsey

Filed under:Jerks,Language Barrier,Not Cool,Politics,Priorities,Religion — posted by Anwyn on March 17, 2008 @ 4:14 pm

Instead they want to be Tom Cruise in Minority Report:

Primary school children should be eligible for the DNA database if they exhibit behaviour indicating they may become criminals in later life, according to Britain’s most senior police forensics expert.

Gary Pugh, director of forensic sciences at Scotland Yard and the new DNA spokesman for the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo), said a debate was needed on how far Britain should go in identifying potential offenders, given that some experts believe it is possible to identify future offending traits in children as young as five.

For once, I am on the side of people warning of the coming of the police state if this occurs in Britain. Also for once, I am on the side of their educational establishment, which is, thank God, horrified by the idea. Looks like there are some who want the idea of probable cause to be just as brief a flicker over there as freedom of religion is turning out to be. Here’s a free tip to those agitating for school vouchers in the U.S., or in places where they actually already have them: Stop calling them vouchers and don’t let anybody, ever, say they are state money. They aren’t. They’re your own taxes being returned to you so that you can support your child in the school of your choice rather than support other people’s children in schools of the government’s choice. The moment you concede the semantics that it’s state money being “given” to you for a voucher, you open the door to the kind of nonsense they’re saying in Britain over the Catholic school:

“A lot of taxpayers’ money is going into church schools and I think we should tease out what is happening here,” said Mr Sheerman, the Labour MP for Huddersfield.

The only taxpayers whose money it is (or should be; nobody should get more back for programs like this than what they paid into the educational system to begin with) is yours. It’s your money. Take it back and don’t let them call it state money, or pretty soon your private or religious school will come under state control as well.

Both links via AoSHQ, where Gabriel has some pithy comments.

Quote of the Day

Filed under:Language Barrier,Politics,Religion — posted by Anwyn @ 9:54 am

Xrlq on Obama/Wright:

The silliest angle of all, I think, is that Obama should get a pass on Wright because he engaged him as a spiritual adviser, not a political one. That’s like saying “Don’t judge me by Mr. God-Damn-America, voters, I only look to that guy to find out what I’m supposed to really believe, not what I’m supposed to say to you to get elected.”

Like the Stone of Erech

Filed under:Music,Priorities,Religion — posted by Anwyn on January 13, 2008 @ 7:45 pm

In which SeeDub teaches us what it means to raise your Ebenezer.

He picked his church for the scripture and got lousy music; I picked mine for the hymn-based music and got … much less scripture.

But I also got a handbell choir that will play this very hymn later this spring, and I can listen to any number of Bible-based sermons on the web. And I recently was made aware, to my astonishment, that there is one elder in my church who is willing to stand up, in Sunday service, in context of a sermon on peace, at the invitation of the pastor, and say publicly that the United States is not imperialist and that the time to prioritize peace is before our troops go into the field. And that after that we need to be supporting their efforts all the way to victory.

Right on.

More Deep Thoughts

Filed under:Priorities,Religion — posted by Anwyn on January 7, 2008 @ 10:08 pm

On Christian denominations: It’s all right to be loyal to traditions, as long as you don’t get the traditions confused with the Word of God and treat them as having the force thereof.

Food for Thought

Filed under:Religion — posted by Anwyn on January 5, 2008 @ 1:44 pm

A guy I know describes himself as both Christian and Buddhist and has mentioned, in that context, looking at beliefs and religions “that have something to offer.”

I think it’s likely to be more valuable in the long run to consider whether any religion or belief system tends to oblige you to allegiance.

People looking for something to be offered them might tend to wind up, um, enthusiastically taking up for long lists of tripe to see where they can get the best value. What happens when the next big bargain of “something offered” for effort, self-discipline, and time comes along? Certainly the belief system that exalts human beings to the top of the rational food chain has a lot to “offer” in terms of pride and self-importance.

I Have Only One Word for You, Too, Huck

Filed under:Jerks,Not Cool,Politics,Religion — posted by Anwyn on December 31, 2007 @ 10:10 pm


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image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace